Following a loss or trauma, each individual has his or her own unique emotional experience and way of coping, grieving and reacting. Experiencing trauma is not uncommon; an estimated 60% of men and 50% of women experience at least one trauma in their lives. In clinical terms, a traumatic event is one in which a person’s life was threatened or perceived to be threatened, or they witnessed another person’s life being threatened. Experiencing the death of another person can also trigger trauma-related problems for vulnerable individuals.
It is unclear how and why people react to trauma differently. A combination of genetics, temperament, and repeated exposure to traumatic events can all play a role. When trauma starts to affect one’s daily life, trauma therapy, a form of talk therapy, may be beneficial.
Some people can move on from a traumatic event and not experience adverse reactions to it for years after the fact. Others may be more susceptible to psychological wounds. While it’s considered normal to experience distress, trouble sleeping and mood changes directly after a traumatic event, if these symptoms persist longer than one month, it may be a sign of PTSD and clinical intervention should be considered.
If a person can cope with a severe threat, they are not traumatized. When someone has issues coping after the danger has passed, they are suffering from trauma. Women are more likely than men to experience trauma-related psychological wounds. Up to 20% of combat veterans will struggle with the symptoms of PTSD and psychological trauma.
There is help available. If a past experience is getting in the way of you living your fullest life, trauma therapy can be life-changing. Trauma therapy refers to specific types of therapy geared toward treating the effects of trauma, with the common goal of putting an end to a past trauma from affecting one’s daily life. These therapies may not be for everyone. However, they have proven to be effective in most patients when dealing with traumatic events. The types of trauma therapy one may consider with their therapist are explained below:
Group therapy is beneficial because it shows that patients are not alone in their struggles. By being in a supportive and safe environment, group members become more comfortable sharing their stories and helping others through the trauma.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a form of behavior therapy. Doctors help their patients identify behaviors and attitudes that reflect negatively on their lives. Patients then work to replace these negative attitudes with positive ones. Patients will often utilize these new skills in their daily lives.
COGNITIVE PROCESSING THERAPY
Similar to CBT, cognitive processing therapy helps teach patients new, more positive ways of addressing trauma-related beliefs and emotions.
DIALECTICAL BEHAVIOR THERAPY
Like other types of trauma therapy, dialectical behavior therapy aims to better regulate emotions. This form of therapy has been effective in helping those who experience suicidal thoughts. This method has been effective for a number of mental health disorders including PTSD. It helps instill new skills to help people change unhealthy behaviors.
EYE MOVEMENT DESENSITIZATION & REPROCESSING
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy has patients focus on their trauma while being visually stimulated. Thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations are activated while the stimulation helps reduce the emotion and physiological reaction to the trauma. Negative thoughts associated with the trauma can then be reprocessed with more positive and accepting beliefs.
Prolonged Exposure Therapy
As opposed to CPT, prolonged exposure (PE) addresses the details of the traumatic event more directly. There are two major aspects of PE. The first is discussing the traumatic event in as much detail as possible during therapy sessions. The second is gradually facing situations in daily life that are anxiety-provoking and that the person may have been avoiding because they are related to the traumatic event.
Most people will experience a traumatic event at some point in their lives. There are many different trauma experiences that can lead to PTSD or get in the way of daily functioning that trauma therapy can help with, according to scientific studies. This can include physical or sexual abuse, car accidents, bullying, war, serious health problems, childbirth experiences and other near-death experiences.
Trauma is not just experienced emotionally but in the body as well. During a traumatic event, the mind and body become activated. For some people, after the threat has passed, the mind and body will return to normal. For others, hyperarousal and hyperreactivity remain and become chronic. The chronic stress response can dysregulate the stress system in the body, causing stress-related physical conditions to develop, such as chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, and high blood pressure.
It can be challenging to face those difficult events, with support and psychotherapy, symptoms can lessen over time. Trauma therapy can improve your overall quality of life. Some other benefits of trauma therapy include:
- Learn coping skills to handle distorted or negative thoughts and feelings
- Reframe the traumatic experience and make some sense of it
- Improve close relationships and connections with people
- Reduce irritability, anger, frustration, and increase peace of mind
- Eliminate or reduce triggers and symptoms of PTSD
While many people will seek out help to process their trauma, many people will not. The goal of trauma therapy is to help someone process their emotions and feelings connected to the traumatizing event and to no longer let it get in the way of them living a happier and better life.